MTG adds sports cluster on Viasat

Modern Times Group has added a number of new localised premium sports channels in Sweden and Norway. The move is a direct attack on rival (Telenor backed) Canal Digital, which dominates pay-TV in Norway.

MTG also announced that it has extended its exclusive live UEFA Champions’ League football broadcasting rights in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, until the end of the 2011/2012 championship in the spring of 2012. MTG will deliver comprehensive coverage via its internet sites and to mobile devices in each country, as well as screening matches both on its pay-TV and free-TV channels.

The launch of the Viasat Sport, Viasat Football and Viasat Motor channels in Sweden, and Viasat Sport and Viasat Motor in Norway, means that viewers in both countries will now be able to watch a total of five dedicated Viasat sports channels.

The Viasat Sport HD channel is available in Sweden and Norway and Viasat Golf is available on a pan-Scandinavian basis. The SportN channel in Norway is a joint venture between Viasat and public service broadcaster NRK. In addition, Norwegian pay-TV sports channel TV2 Sport will now be available for the first time on the Viasat DTH satellite platform.

MTG says the new channel structure replaces the current Viasat Sport 1, 2 and 3 channels and reflects the growing demand for localised premium sports content. The new channels will also continue to feature a wide range of major international sports rights including UEFA Champions League football and Formula One motor racing. Both these exclusive rights have been extended to the end of the 2011/2012 seasons.

Viasat Football will be Sweden’s only dedicated football channel and have exclusive live broadcasting rights to UEFA Champions League matches; 2010 World Cup qualification games including Sweden, England and Germany’s home fixtures and South American national side qualifying games; the English FA Cup and League Cup championships; Chelsea and Manchester United club TV; the French league; and the German Bundesliga.

Viasat Sport in Norway will also have exclusive coverage of the best from UEFA Champions League, the 2010 World Cup qualification games, the English FA Cup and League Cup championships, as well as Formula One, NFL, boxing, cycling, and ice hockey from the Norwegian Get league and Ice Hockey World Championship.

Viasat Motor will be the region’s only dedicated motorsports channel and will be available in both Sweden and Norway. The channel will feature Formula One, including live coverage of each race and the qualifying sessions. The channel has also acquired the rights to the MotoGP motorcycle grand prix championship and the Swedish Touring Car Championships, and will also carry the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from the US.

MTG says Viasat Sport viewers in Sweden will have access to the Ice Hockey World Championships, Champions Hockey League and Russian KHL League ice hockey, as well as NFL American football, ATP Masters Series and Davis Cup tennis, and Swedish basketball league and Euroleague basketball. Viasat also has the rights to the European and World basketball championships in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

The Danish sports channel offering includes joint venture pay-TV channels TV2 Sport and TV2 Sport HD, as well as Viasat Golf. Free-TV channel TV3+ also broadcasts extensive sports coverage including the Danish football league and, from next season and for the first time, Formula One motor racing.

Hans-Holger Albrecht, President and CEO of MTG, said: “The migration of premium sports coverage to our pay-TV channels reflects both the increasing number of localised sports channels in our pay-TV package offerings and the positioning of these channels to provide the very best sports entertainment for paying viewers. We are however continuing to make some of the highest profile sports events available on our broader free-TV entertainment channels in each country, and providing an ever increasing level of content via the internet and to mobile devices”.